Candid Teacher Admits: The funniest moments are often also the most “interesting” at the time.
My first year of teaching came with many, many challenges. I had 24 diverse students, a half-day aide who was little to no help, a belittling and degrading principal, no allies on the kindergarten staff, lived on my own & alone for the first time, and found myself spiraling into a schedule of work-eat-sleep-repeat.
However, that first year also brought me a very, shall we say, spirited group of students. They were full of personality, if you will. One student was very immature and, though he was technically “potty trained”, he was not able to wipe himself after a bowel movement.
Oh yes, buckle up.
So, one lovely day in my kindergarten classroom, this child disappeared for a good 10 minutes before I wondered why he was still in the bathroom. I knocked on the door and heard sobs coming from the other side. I opened the door a bit (without looking in, of course), and asked the distressed student what was wrong. Though I had to ask him to repeat himself a number of times before I understood him, he finally wailed, “I cannot wipe myself!”
Oh, hell no. This was not in the job description.
So, I called the nurse and she came while I took the rest of the students to their scheduled special. She explained that he would not wipe himself without baby wipes. So, in collaboration with his mother, we determined that he would carry some baby wipes in a ziploc in his pocket while he learned to clean himself up properly.
Months went by and one routine day, the aforementioned student rocketed out of the bathroom at full speed with an air of excitement and pride. He hustled over to where I was seated across the room working with another student. As he neared me, he shouted my name and then placed his hand on my cheek, “Miss S,” he said, “I did it! I did it by myself! I wiped myself up!” He was so excited, and I didn’t want to dampen his happiness, but he was standing far too close (and let’s not forget that his precariously placed hand, which was just used in the act of “wiping”, was on my cheek). “That’s great! Did you remember to wash your hands really well, too?” I asked with what I hoped sounded like genuine enthusiasm. “Uh huh!” he replied with a nod.
After more congratulatory words, I got a baby wipe and bathed my face with it. Though I scrubbed vigorously, it felt as though that hand was still there, burning a hole of feces into my skin (though I must say, I didn’t actually see any evidence on the child’s hand). Then, I forced the incident out of my mind until I could get home and properly wash my face.
That child’s victory, no matter how interesting its nature, is something that will always stay with me. I wonder if it holds as much meaning to him.